USL PRO’s 2014 season was always going to be different.
But we didn’t know it was going to look like this.
TWO USL PRO TEAMS FOLD
MLS and USL PRO agreed on a partnership in 2013 in which all USL PRO teams were supposed to partner with MLS clubs by 2015 and the other MLS teams fielding their own reserve/USL PRO squads.
But the 2014 season will see two established clubs fold, according to RecklessChallenge.net – VSI Tampa Bay FC, which was an expansion club in 2013, and Antigua Barracuda FC.
VSI Tamp Bay FC, which has a strong youth club setup and a USL PDL club, always seemed like a foolish venture. Not only was its stadium at Plant City, Fla. a bad choice for many reasons, the club was also fighting for fan support against the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies, who have history and a vise grip on the city’s soccer fan community.
VSI Tampa Bay FC averaged 381 fans per game. And that was being generous to the number of actual butts in the seats.
Antigua Barracuda FC, meanwhile, played every single match in 2013 on the road. The club, founded in 2010, just could not survive with that kind of financial burden.
NEW USL PRO TEAMS ADDED
We knew there were going to be two expansion clubs this season — Sacramento Republic FC and the Oklahoma City Energy FC.
But RecklessChallenge.net also uncovered that MLS clubs the Los Angeles Galaxy and FC Dallas will also field teams (in the form of a reserve squad) in USL PRO.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena hinted of this move during the 2013 MLS regular season. So the Galaxy’s decision to join the league with its own team instead of partnering with the Los Angeles Blues comes to no surprise.
That spells bad news for the Blues, who need help on the field, in the stands and in its financial books. Partnering with the Galaxy would have been perfect for the Blues in every possible angle, including staying relevant in Southern California professional soccer.
NEW MLS-USL PRO PARTNERSHIP
One MLS club, though, has decided to partner with a USL PRO team.
The Portland Timbers will partner with Sacramento Republic FC, according to prostamerika.com.
Quite a surprise given that the closest MLS club to Sacramento is the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Timbers-Republic agreement includes player loans and a coach moving from the Timbers to the Sacramento club.
2013 saw four MLS-USL PRO partnerships: D.C. United-Richmond Kickers; Philadelphia Union-Harrisburg City Islanders; New England Revolution-Rochester Rhinos; Sporting Kansas City-Orlando City.
And now, your Moment of Zin(edine Zidane):